There was a recent twitter exchange between a Muslim from Saudi and Elon Musk regarding the topics of Death, Salvation and Hell. This exchange garnered mixed reactions and was a topic of discussion in some quarters among the faithful and the faithless.
Ramadan is a month in which we try our best to excel and do more. Inevitably, after Ramadan finishes, we feel a dip in terms of our worship levels. This is natural and nothing to be overly concerned about. A sign that our good deeds are accepted is that we maintain doing good after the season is over. We should try to keep an element of our Ramadan worship going:
God mentions a number of points concerning the month of Ramadan in the Quran:
- In 2:183, God commands us to fast the month of Ramadan. He also informs us that fasting was prescribed upon previous messengers and nations.
Fasting has a number of noble goals and objectives. Ramadan is a time of discipline and training, and many of the lessons and benefits learned during Ramadan should be carried forward for the next eleven months.
- Attainment of God Consciousness and Piety – Fasting builds piety. A person fasting refrains from food, drink and intimate relations to please God. They could hide and eat and drink, but don’t, as they are aware that God is watching. God says, “O you who have faith in Allah and follow His Prophet, Allah has ordered you to fast, as He ordered those before you, so that you may become mindful of Allah, protecting yourself from His punishment by doing good actions – fasting being one of the best of these.”[2:183]
- Glorifying God – Ramadan is a month of worship. Muslims do not just fast, but the fasting should motivate them to worship God in other ways. In particular, we glorify God for having guided us to His worship. God says concerning fasting, “…He wants you to complete the right number of days and to glorify Him upon the completion of Ramadan, on the day of Eid, as He helped you and made it possible for you to fast.” [2:185]
- Thanking God – fasting allows us to appreciate God’s many blessings upon us. We often take things like food and water for granted, while being fully aware that there are many in the world who do not always enjoy these blessings. We could easily have been in their situation. We also thank God for His blessings of faith and guidance, and knowing the Quran and the Messenger Muhammad. God says about fasting, “…, so that you thank Allah for guiding you to this religion which He has approved for you.” [2:185]
- Spiritual Development – Ramadan allows us to improve our spiritual side and character. Just as we train our bodies and refrain from enjoying food and drink during the fasting hours, we must also train ourselves to abstain from sins and hurting others. With an increase in faith and piety, there should come an increase in good character and higher morals. Muslims should always refrain from losing their temper or harming others, especially while fasting.
Ramadan is Coming
by Sara Bokker
Ramadan is coming.
First time –
There are 12 months in the Islamic Year:
The names of these months pre-date the revelation of the Quran. They were named by the Arabs based on the seasons of the year and the conditions of their lives.
Month 1 – Muharram – the literal meaning is “sacred.” It is said the Arabs called this month sacred as they forbade fighting, war, and killing during it. Read More
Every messenger of God sent to his people was given miracles. These miracles were a sign to their people of the truthfulness of the messengers and how they carried God’s message. One of the messengers whose miracles are mentioned by God in the Quran, is the messenger Jesus. God gave Jesus the ability to perform the following miracles:
- Speaking as a baby – God describes this to us in the Quran, “[But] he said: ‘I am a servant of God. He has granted me the Scripture; made me a prophet; made me blessed wherever I may be. He commanded me to pray, to give alms as long as I live, to cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. Protection was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die and the day I am raised to life again.’” [19:23-26]
- Making bird shapes out of clay and bringing them to life – “I will make the shape of a bird for you out of clay, then breathe into it and, with God’s permission, it will become a real bird.” [3:49]
- Curing the blind and the leper – “I will heal the blind and the leper…” [3:49]
- Bringing the dead back to life – “…and bring the dead back to life with God’s permission.” [3:49]
- Telling people about their hidden affairs – “I will tell you what you may eat and what you may store up in your houses. There truly is a sign for you in this, if you are believers.” [3:49]
- The revelation of the Gospel – “I have come to confirm the truth of the Torah which preceded me, and to make some things lawful to you which used to be forbidden. I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. Be mindful of God, obey me.” [3:50]
- The heavenly feast – “Jesus, son of Mary, said, ‘Lord, send down to us a feast from heaven so that we can have a festival- the first and last of us- and a sign from You. Provide for us: You are the best provider.’” [5:114]
God’s divine protection can be sought at any time. However, the following are specific times, places or situations in which you should seek God’s protection with the following phrase/prayer (I seek God’s protection and refuge):
- Before reading the Quran 41:36
- When confronted by Satan’s whispers and temptations to sin – God says, “If a prompting from Satan should stir you, seek refuge with God.” 7:200
- When Satan disturbs you during the daily ritual devotions (Salah) – The Messenger Muhammad informed us that if Satan comes to us during this time, to seek God’s protection
- At times of negative improper anger – The Messenger Muhammad informed us that seeking God’s protection at this time is a means of removing anger.
- When seeing bad dreams – If you see a displeasing nightmare, then you should seek God’s protection from Satan.
- When stopping somewhere in the wildreness or the countryside – The Messenger Muhammad said that whoever says, “I seek protection in God’s perfect words from the evil of what He created,” will not be harmed.
- When entering the restroom
- As part of the morning and evening daily invocations
Not All Prayers Are Valid, nor Will They Be Granted
Praying to God and asking Him to grant our needs and wishes is one of the greatest acts of worship. It is a beloved act of worship to God and one that is greatly encouraged in the Quran and by the Messenger Muhammad. However, not all prayers are valid, nor will they necessarily be granted. In this blog, we will explore some of the reasons for this.
There are a number of reasons which may cause prayers to be invalid including:
- Impermissible earnings – wealth which is not attained from pure means or earned by Islamically unlawful means. The subsequent food, drink, and clothing we purchase with such wealth is one reason for our supplications being rejected.
- Making Impermissible Requests or asking for evil and harm to befall oneself or others – praying to God and asking for something which displeases God is something which may be rejected. For example, asking to break our ties of family kinship.
- Sins – disobeying God can at times act like a barrier which prevents our prayers from being answered.
- Being Inattentive – the Messenger Muhammad informed us that God does not accept the prayers that come from a heedless heart.
How Prayers Are Granted
For the Muslim who is trying their best and sincerely prays to God, they will find an answer. However, the response may not necessarily be what they expect. The Messenger Muhammad informed us that God answers our prayers in one of three ways:
- God gives us what we ask for – this means that God accepted our prayers and gave us what we wanted in our lifetime.
- God does not grant us what we ask for, but instead gives us the reward of our supplication in the Hereafter.
- God does not grant our prayer, but instead removes from us an equal harm that would have befallen us, making the prayer a form of protection.
Remember, God is All-Knowing and All-Wise. If God chooses to withhold something from us, it is due to Him knowing that it is not in our best interest. However, the prayers are not lost; the reward of those prayers will be preserved and other harms that we were unaware of will be removed from us.
Therefore, never despair from praying to God as often as you can. When the disciples of the Messenger Muhammad heard the three ways in which God responds to our prayers, they stated that they would pray even more. The Messenger Muhammad replied that God’s bounty will always be more than our prayers.
Many of the rites of pilgrimage are connected to Abraham and his family. Abraham was commanded to leave his baby son Ishmael, and Ishmael’s mother Hajar, in the barren land of Mecca before it became a thriving city. Hajar was left with little provisions for herself and her son. In order to seek water, she ran between the two nearby hills of Safa and Marwah a number of times. This is where the pilgrimage rite of Sa’i, or the walking between the two hills comes from.
On her 7th circuit up the hills, Hajar saw water by where she had left Ishmael. Fearing the water would run out, she built a small mound around it to contain it. This is the well of Zamzam. This water is considered blessed and pilgrims will drink from this water throughout their stay in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Ishamel and Hajar settled in this city and other people noticed the water so they requested to join them. When Ishmael was a young boy, Abraham saw a dream that he should offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham informed Ishmael of this, and together they walked the short distance to Mina, the place where pilgrims today spend much of their pilgrimage. On his way, Satan appeared three times to Abraham to convince him to disobey God’s command. Each time, Abraham took small pebbles and threw them at Satan. This is why pilgrims stone the three pillars during the pilgrimage.
When Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, God informed him that he had passed the test, and instead replaced Ishmael with a ram. Today, pilgrims offer a similar sacrifice during their pilgrimage.
A number of years later, Abraham returned to Mecca. This time, God had commanded him to raise the foundations of the Ka’bah. Abraham asked Ishmael for his assistance. Together, they built the Ka’ba. Abraham proclaimed this as God’s house and a place of pilgrimage, and invited God’s faithful servants to come there for pilgrimage.
It is in response to this call from God, through Abraham, that millions of Muslims flock annually to the holy city of Mecca to perform this once-in-a-lifetime obligation of pilgrimage.